Arts Committee Urges Public-Private Support : Amid Talk of Federal Cuts, President's Panel Visits L.A. in Series of Events to Promote Cooperation


In a two-day blitz of seminars, dinners and site visits, which culminates today with a three-hour morning meeting at the Los Angeles Music Center, the Washington-based President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities will try to persuade the Los Angeles community to forge a stronger tie between the private sector and the arts in an era in which federal arts funding faces a serious threat on Capitol Hill.

The event marks the first Los Angeles visit by the Washington-based task force, which was established in 1982 to encourage private-sector support for the arts and humanities and serve as an advocate for those disciplines. Today's free seminars, held from 9:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the downtown Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, will be open to the public.

"While there is a lot of action going on in Washington, we don't want to just meet in Washington," said the committee's executive director Ellen McCulloch-Lovell in a Wednesday interview in Santa Monica at the J. Paul Getty Trust's offices, where she was joined by John Brademas, president emeritus of New York University, who was appointed chairman of the committee by President Clinton last September.

Speakers will include Shelton g. Stanfill, Music Center president; Al Nodal, general manager of Los Angeles' Cultural Affairs Department; Terry Semel, chairman and chief executive officer of Warner Bros. and vice chair of the President's Committee, and Harvey Golub, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express, on the issue of "cultural tourism."

Panel discussions will include arts and philanthropic leaders such as Harold Williams, president and chief executive officer of the J. Paul Getty Trust and a member of the committee; Barbara Barclay of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park; Susan Gordon, associate director of the California Council for the Humanities, and Erwin Washington, executive director of the Lula Washington Contemporary Dance Company.

Also in attendance will be California committee members Irene Y. Hirano, executive director and president of Los Angeles' Japanese American National Museum, and musician-composer Quincy Jones, among others.

McCulloch-Lovell said that although the arts advocacy organization was established in 1982 (it grew out of an arts task force appointed by former-President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and included conservative actor Charlton Heston), the committee had been dormant for several years.

Then, last September, in light of expected attacks on federal arts funding, the organization became more active again. Clinton appointed a new group of committee members from a nationwide pool of arts, civic and economic leaders and a new chairman, Brademas.


While the group is not an advocacy organization for federal arts and humanities funding, the chairs of the federal organizations--the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum Services--are members of the committee. The group operates with a $380,000 annual budget, with most committee members paying their own expenses for travel.

McCulloch-Lovell said that the committee's mandate is to encourage private contributions to the arts without discouraging public investment. "The cultural life in this country is sustained by what a lot of people have called the public-private partnership for 30 years, and it has worked well for 30 years," she said. "All told, federal, state and local dollars are about 10% of what funds culture and the rest of it is private . . . but the economy of the arts is very fragile; if you start tampering with one piece, you affect all the other elements."

Added Brademas, a former U.S. representative from Indiana: "Support for our committee has always been bipartisan, so I hope that therefore my former colleague from the House, Mr. Newt Gingrich, and another former colleague of mine, Sen. Dole, will continue that bipartisan tradition."

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